Location: Simons IMAX Theatre

African Manatees and Sea Turtles: Conservation Challenges and Successes

Thursday, August 3

Lucy Keith-Diagne, Ph.D., Founder of the African Aquatic Conservation Fund, Pew Fellow, and New England Aquarium Marine Conservation Action Fund Fellow

Tomas Diagne, Founder of the African Chelonian Institute, Rolex Associate Laureate, and New England Aquarium Marine Conservation Action Fund Fellow

 

For more than two decades, scientists Lucy Keith-Diagne and Tomas Diagne have been working to study manatees and turtles and to advocate for their protection. During the last 11 years, Lucy has focused her research on the African manatee, which is one of the least understood of the marine mammals of the world and is often referred to as the “forgotten sirenian.” African manatees live in 21 countries on the western side of the continent, along coasts, and up to 3,000 kilometers inland. They are highly susceptible to accidental capture in fishing nets and are hunted almost everywhere they occur. Lucy will speak about her efforts to determine the number of populations across West and Central Africa, to better understand their diet, and lead the first assessments of manatee threats and the search for solutions across the species’ range.

Tomas Diagne researches threats to sea turtles in Senegal’s coastal waters, which are a migratory hub for five species of sea turtles. In recent years, Tomas has documented a troubling number of dead sea turtles washing up on Senegal’s beaches. Tomas will share how in addition to assessing this disturbing trend, he is working to use the data to advocate for the reduction of sea turtle bycatch in Senegalese fisheries and to collaborate with fisheries authorities to achieve this. He will also speak about his work with sea turtle geneticists to understand from which populations the stranded turtles are coming. Join us to hear Lucy and Tomas share the challenges and successes they have experienced while working to study and protect these iconic and threatened species.